Climate tipping point early warning system

While the press release says University of Exeter, this slide show by Tim Lenton from the University that brought up ClimateGate, UEA, sees tipping worry in every event.

Click for the full slide presentation in PDF form - a transcript follows below

Source: http://www.slideshare.net/Stepscentre/tim-lenton-early-warning-of-climate-tipping-points

From Eurekalert:

Climate change disasters could be predicted

Climate change disasters, such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, dieback of the Amazon rainforest or collapse of the Atlantic overturning circulation, could be predicted according to University of Exeter research.

Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, Professor Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter shows that the ‘tipping points’ that trigger these disasters could be anticipated by looking for changes in climate behaviour.

Climate ‘tipping points’ are small changes that trigger a massive shift in climate systems, with potentially devastating consequences. It is already known that climate change caused by human activity could push several potential hazards past their ‘tipping point’. However, it is often assumed that these ‘tipping points’ are entirely unpredictable.

Professor Lenton argues that a system of forecasting could be developed to enable some forewarning of high-risk tipping points. The approach he outlines involves analysing observational data to look for signs that a climate system is slowing down in its response to short-term natural variability (which we experience as the weather). This characteristic behaviour indicates the climate is becoming unstable, and is a common feature of systems approaching critical thresholds known as ‘bifurcation points’.

Professor Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter said: “Many people assume that tipping points which could be passed as a result of human-induced climate change are essentially unpredictable. Recent research shows that the situation is not as hopeless as it may seem: we have the tools to anticipate thresholds, which means we could give societies valuable time to adapt.

“Although these findings give us hope, we are still a long way from developing rigorous early warning systems for these climate hazards.”

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Early warning of climate tipping points by Professor Timothy Lenton (University of Exeter) is published in Nature Climate Change volume 1, issue 3, July 2011 and online on Sunday 19 June at 18.00 BST. Copies available on request.

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Here is the transcript for the slide show above.

Tim Lenton – Early warning of climate tipping points – Presentation Transcript

  1. Early warning of climate tipping points Tim Lenton School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich With special thanks to Valerie Livina, John Schellnhuber, Frank Kwasniok
  2. Outline Tipping elements Risk assessment Early warning
  3. Two types of tipping point Bifurcation
  4. Two types of tipping point Bifurcation No bifurcation
  5. Policy relevant forcing range IPCC (2007) = High growth = Mid growth = Low growth
  6. Tipping elements in the climate system Revised from original in Lenton et al. (2008) PNAS 105(6): 1786-1793 October 11, 2010
  7. Estimates of proximity Lenton & Schellnhuber (2007) Nature Reports Climate Change Results from literature review and workshop
  8. Likelihood of tipping Kriegler et al. (2009) PNAS 10.1073/pnas.0809117106 Imprecise probability statements from experts Atlantic formally combined Under 2-4 °C warming: Greenland >16% probability of passing at least one of five tipping points Antarctica Under >4 °C warming: >56% probability of passing at least one of Amazon five tipping points El Niño
  9. Impacts of tipping Lenton, Footitt & Dlugolecki (2009) http://assets.panda.org/downloads/plugin_tp_final_report.pdf Populations exposed to 1-in-100-yr flood events Allianz / WWF report: Increased sea level rise +$25,158 billion exposed assets in port megacities Indian summer monsoon disruption Amazon dieback and drought Aridification of southwest North America October 11, 2010
  10. Tipping element risk assessment Tipping element Likelihood of Relative Risk score Risk ranking passing a tipping impact** of (likelihood x point change in state impact) (by 2100) (by 3000) Arctic summer sea-ice High Low 3 4 Greenland ice sheet Medium-High* High 7.5 1 (highest) West Antarctic ice sheet Medium* High 6 2 Atlantic THC Low* Medium-High 2.5 6 ENSO Low* Medium-High 2.5 6 West African monsoon Low High 3 4 Amazon rainforest Medium* Medium 4 3 Boreal forest Low Low-Medium 1.5 8 (lowest) *Likelihoods informed by expert elicitation **Initial judgment of relative impacts is my subjective assessment Impacts depend on human responses hence are more epistemologically contested than assigning likelihoods to events (Stirling 2003 ‘Risk, uncertainty and precaution…’) October 11, 2010
  11. Prospects for bifurcation early warning Held & Kleinen (2004) Geophysical Research Letters 31: L23207 Lenton et al. (2008) PNAS 105(6): 1786-1793 Generic early warning signals: Slowing down Increasing variability Skewness of responses Flickering between states System being forced past a tipping point October 11, 2010
  12. Model test of early warning method Held & Kleinen (2004) Geophysical Research Letters 31: L23207 CLIMBER-2 intermediate complexity model Linear increase in CO2 from 280 to 800 ppmv Stochastic perturbation of freshwater forcing
  13. Fully 3-D dynamical model test Lenton et al. (2009) Phil. Trans. A 367: 871-884 Atlantic meridional overturning circulation Early warning indicator from autocorrelation function Early warning indicator from detrended fluctuation analysis October 11, 2010 GENIE-2 model
  14. Paleo-data test of early warning method Livina & Lenton (2007) Geophysical Research Letters 34: L03712 Greenland ice-core regional temperature record Early warning indicator from detrended fluctuation analysis Early warning indicator from autocorrelation function October 11, 2010
  15. Detecting the number of system states Livina, Kwasniok & Lenton (2010) Climate of the Past, 6: 77-82 New method; „potential analysis‟: Assume polynomial potential and random noise Estimate number of states (i.e. order of polynomial) Estimate noise level Derive potential coefficients and hence shape of potential Number of states: 1, 2, 3, 4 October 11, 2010
  16. Changing number of climate states Livina, Kwasniok & Lenton (2010) Climate of the Past, 6: 77-82 Number of states: 1, 2, 3, 4
  17. European monthly temperature anomaly (1659-2004) Livina et al. (in revision) Climate Dynamics Number of states: 1, 2, 3, 4 October 11, 2010
  18. Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (1856-present) Livina et al. (in revision) Climate Dynamics Number of states: 1, 2, 3, 4
  19. Conclusion Tipping elements in the climate system could be triggered this century by anthropogenic forcing The Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets probably represent the largest risks Some tipping points can be anticipated in principle, but sufficiently high-resolution, long records are often lacking A change in the number of climate states can be detected, in a noisy climate system that is moving between states Improved understanding is needed to help policy makers “avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable” October 11, 2010
  20. Find out more http://knowledge.allianz.com/climate_tipping_points/climate_en.html October 11, 2010
  21. Example of transition (but not bifurcation) Livina, Ditlevsen, Lenton (submitted) Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics Sigmoid function with red noise, fluctuation exponent 0.7 ACF-propagator (without detrending) is more sensitive to transitions

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I’ve yet to see a “climate change disaster”. I would suppose that the closest thing that qualifies would be the Vikings getting frozen out of Greenland as the MWP ended. Lenton’s study assumes that Earth’s climate will become more chaotic due to AGW, rather than establishing some new equilibrium point.

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Chris F

Some folks just insist on seeing monsters under every bed. I’m glad I grew up and those things don’t bother me any more..

Ross

I think there is a very good project for a good investigative journalist —have a long hard look at the history and development of the CRU. It is not just those that are there now , but so many of the “leaders” in the AWG machine haves links back to the UEA.

Duncan

So… the greening of the Sahara is a tipping point, or an early sign that we’re approaching a tipping point?
Yes, this is the bogeyman stalking the world – if we don’t do something about fossil fuel use quick, the Sahara could become arable land again! LOOK OUT! Crop yields might increase around the Mediterranean too!
Hard for me to see how that could cause permanent change on a global scale.
Hard for me to see why they bothered mentioning it, since it doesn’t seem like a bad thing.

George Kominiak

Good grief!! Who pays for thus stuff??? (And why???)

Physics Major

Nature Climate Change – the name says it all. You know what to expect.

Robert M

It would be nice if those guys could actually predict something. But so far the only sure thing is that if they say it will happen, the smart money is on the opposite.
Climate “Science” is batting 0 for 1000. Someday they will get something right, by accident more then anything, and then just look out!!!

DirkH

I think it already bifurcated here, i mean the weather is really lousy. Surely some serious climate disruption. Hope it doesn’t spread to non-Kyotoland.

Graeme

They forgot to add some “Skulls” and “Fish skeletons”, and maybe some “Polar Bear Skeletons” to the graphic to indicate the massive loss of life, diebacks and species loss…

Olen

They can’t accurately predict the weather very far out but can identify small changes as tipping points that have devastating results.
This sounds a lot like the butterfly effect.

“I think there is a very good project for a good investigative journalist —have a long hard look at the history and development of the CRU. It is not just those that are there now , but so many of the “leaders” in the AWG machine haves links back to the UEA.”
The CRU’s building is named after its original founder, Hubert Lamb, who was the grandfather of the MWP and LIA.
Here he is in a news clipping from 1972, a year after CRU was founded, predicting a slow decent into a new ice age: http://climategate.tv/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/deseret2.png.
His book “Climate History and the Modern World” was updated in ’94 and included faint praise of AGW theory:
“Changes in the amount of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse’ gases in the atmosphere, as well as variations of the water vapor content, and of cloudiness, must also be expected to affect the climate. It now seems necessary to admit – though this is seldom mentioned in recent literature – that none of these variations explains the timing of the general warming and cooling phases altogether satisfactorily, certainly not as well as widely claimed. In particular, the sharp warming phase around 1700, and the mid-twentieth-century cooling from about the 1940s to the early 1980s, are not well accounted for. Nor is the magnitude, nor the distribution, of warming and cooling over the Earth in good agreement with most global warming model predictions. Even the great warmth of the years 1989-91, hailed in some quarters as proof of the reality of the predicted global warming due to the enhancement of the greenhouse effect by increasing carbon dioxide and other effluents, requires the usual adjustments.”

Mark T

I don’t mind… the more predictions these idiots make, the less likely the hoi palloi will be to believe them when their predictions fail.
Mark

Andrew30

Old news, Tims been flogging this since…
Washington, DC November 24, 2009
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the leading insurer Allianz SE released a report today warning that sea level rise could dramatically increase risks to buildings, transportation infrastructure and other assets exposed to severe storm surges in coastal areas of the U.S.

The report, ‘Major Tipping Points in the Earth’s Climate System and Consequences for the Insurance Sector’ was written by Tim Lenton and Anthony Footitt at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research; and Andrew Dlugolecki at Andlug Consulting (all in the U.K.).

“As an insurer and investor, we must prepare our clients for these scenarios as long as we still have leeway for action,” said Scott Steinmetz, PE, AVP Corporate Risk Governance, Fireman’s Fund Insurance, a company of Allianz. “Setting premiums risk-appropriately and sustainably is of vital interest to everyone involved, because this is the only way to ensure that coverage solutions will continue to exist.”
http://www.prweb.com/releases/sea_level/weather_storms/prweb3250634.htm
Follow the money, or in this case the perception of threat risks which increases insurance premiums.
PS.These insureance companies fund the CRU
Norwich Union
Reinsurance Underwriters and Syndicates
See Also:
“From Risk to Opportunity” Evan Mills, Ph.D. April 2009
…”Enabling Customers to Acquire Carbon Offsets”
Another initiative brings together a set of insurers that, for every vehicle or travel policy bought through online broker Climatesure, contribute a percentage of the premium to the company Climate Care, which operates carbon-offsetting projects and provides a100% offset for the customer’s travel (including up to 40 flight hours per policy) with no price premium (Osborne 2006). Among the insurers offering policies through Climatesure are AXA, Norwich Union, Groupama Insurances, and Premier Underwriting; premiums are lower for fuel-efficient cars. Allianz also is offering certified carbon offsets for drivers, and plans to augment this with some sort of premium incentive (Allianz 2007b). RSA’s More Th>n Green Wheels automobile insurance provides a 15% discount for qualifying vehicles, including 100% carbon offset for the first 3,000 miles driven each year, with an option to the customer to purchase offsets for the remaining amount.
http://www.climate-insurance.org/upload/pdf/Mills2008_risk-to-opportunity.pdf
The Money, follow the Money.

jcrabb

He left out rapid Methane release from East Siberian Sea.

sky

I suspect these blokes know more about university-town tippling points than about dynamic tipping points.

Lord Jim

Might as well just stick to the chicken entrails…

charles nelson

Buy property in Timbuctoo – now!

tom t

They say human induced climate change causes these tipping points. Presumably naturally occurring climate change, no matter of what magnitude could never cause these tipping points to be reached.

Hartog van den Berg

I am happy to see that Australia is not the home of a coloured ‘tipping point’. Maybe we can still save the rest of the world?

johnnyb

Ok, so the SW USA is supposed to dry out, while the Sahara is greening up, eh? Isn’t the reason that both these regions are dry is due to the fact they lie in the “horse latitudes”?

johnnyb

Ok, so the SW USA is supposed to dry out, while the Sahara is greening up, eh? Isn’t the reason that both these regions are dry is due to the fact they lie in the “horse latitudes”? So, if one area is greening up shouldn’t they all be?

dave v

I see a Josh cartoon here. ‘changes in climate behavior’? Sounds like looking for warning signs for teenage delinquency. Will El Nino start hanging around street corners acting tough?

to look for signs that a climate system is slowing down in its response to short-term natural variability
Silly me, I would expect the second derivative of any change to become MORE positive near a tipping point.
Watts:I’ve yet to see a “climate change disaster”.
Oh, come now. What do you call the IPCC and company?

They happen all the time, but are in all different directions and cancel each other out, so we don’t notice them.

earthdog

After all the dire predictions that these people have made (none of which have come true nor are they likely to), they come up with more. What is wrong with these people? I really do not understand. It’s like talking to a five year old. It doesn’t matter to them in the least if they’re proved wrong — they simply start up right back where they left off as if nothing happened or was said. You would think that eventually they would step back and reevaluate their position. Look at the data and make some observations. See what’s going on in the world. It’ very frustrating. These are supposed to be learned people steeped in the ways of science and method. Instead, they’re more Orwellian, speaking the New Speak, telling the Big Lie over and over again until they make it the truth.
I’m all for keeping it clean. I don’t want a polluted planet. I want to be able to take my young children on month long sojourns through the redwoods and up to Glacier. But lying to people or advancing an agenda isn’t going to save anything. And regulating me to the point where that trip would be illegal won’t make me happy, either. Nor will frightening my science-starved neighbors and making them think that they are somehow doing The Right Thing by voting in laws that will strip us all of our right to own a vehicle to make the trip I just spoke of.
Carbon dioxide is not a poison unless it’s the only gas in the room. Full stop. The climate has always changed and it will until the sun burns out — and I think we can all agree it will be fairly static thereafter. Will they be happy then? All their predictions will come true, then. It will be like shooting fish in a barrel.
Jeez, I’m frustrated by these idiots. Can you tell? Sorry for the rant. It wasn’t really like that when it was rolling around in my head. Something high jacked me between my brain stem and fingers.

Scarlet Pumpernickel

Did you see that volcano article that the iceland volcano has special chrloine emissions, maybe that’s why the ozone hole went bad in the northern hemisphere

Dr. Dave

Gotta keep that ol’ Gravy Train a-rollin’! Activist climate scientists make their living off the government teat…governments that are increasingly running out of money. If you already believe in this BS why is “more study” needed? If you don’t believe in this crap, “more study” is unlikely to change your mind. The climate science community were the first ones to hop aboard the Gravy Train and they might very well be the first ones to be kicked off. Scarce government funds are likely to be more urgently needed to fund crony capitalism projects that enrich special interests and politicians.

With so many predictions and them being rather vague you should be able to get at least something right. Hey people look one of the climate tipping i predicted, repent now sinners.
The equivalent of discharging your shotgun on the broadside of a barn, you should be able to hit something. As long as the spread is wide enough that is.
The Nostradamus of our age.

timetochooseagain

Horror of horrors! The greening of the Sahara!
No that’s not actually frightening. What’s frightening is that I have just realized that we have all stepped into the Twilight Zone, for that is the only place any human being, sane or otherwise, could consider that a bad thing.
Pretty soon our glasses will fall off our faces when we are the last men on Earth, and the flight attendants won’t see the evil gremlins on the aircraft wings and we’ll be in this place where we seemingly are in heaven, but what on earth made us think that; this is the other place!
Bonus points for those who can name every episode I just referenced.

Philip Bradley

There is no evidence these tipping points exist.
And if they did exist why weren’t they triggered by past warmer climates, such as the Holocene Optimum (5,000 years ago), which was at least 2C warmer than present.
Some tipping points can be anticipated in principle, but sufficiently high-resolution, long records are often lacking
Which means the effects to date, if they exist, are too small to measure. Probably the valid statement in the whole thing.

Jaye Bass

ManBearPig

rbateman

To Serve Man: turned out to be a cookbook.
Eyeballs floating in space, shattered windows, mesmerizing striped tops, and a storyline that made us cringe.
The good news is that it was just a show, and it ended.
Or did it? Some appear to have slipped into the shadows.

rbateman

“and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.”
Yeah. That’s what this tipping point stuff is all about.

philincalifornia

Fortunately for humanity and the environment, the climate change/disruption/crisis fake science gravy train is going to reach a tipping point real soon ……

earthdog said: “It’s like talking to a five year old. It doesn’t matter to them in the least if they’re proved wrong — they simply start up right back where they left off as if nothing happened or was said. You would think that eventually they would step back and reevaluate their position.”
There is professional wresting and then there is the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) “pro” wrestling. The fake one has no desire to reevaluate their position exactly because they are not real participants in the world of wrestling.

From a historical perspective, was there a time when British scientists were respectable?

F. Ross


“… It is already known that climate change caused by human activity could push several potential hazards past their ‘tipping point’. …”

Assumes facts not in evidence. Appeal to authority. In a word, hogswill.

Maurice J

Hey ROBERT….These Clowns could not HIT A BARN….even if they were IN IT.

Odd. They’ve been predicting disasterous tipping points for years that haven’t happened and now they’ve “discovered” that with enough research they should be able to predict them? What exactly has been the basis of their predictions up till now?

jorgekafkazar

Utter nonsense.

DirkH

Tomorrow: Partly sunny. Chance of isolated to scattered bifurcation; in the afternoon chaotic multistability.

John F. Hultquist

Olen says:
June 19, 2011 at 7:33 pm
“This sounds a lot like the butterfly effect.

Insofar as this post is about Tim Lenton’s fictions then a link to fiction by a pro might be okay. If you are not familiar with Ray Bradbury —
“The idea that one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historic events seems first to have appeared in “A Sound of Thunder”, a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury about time travel (see Literature and print here) although Lorenz made the term popular.”
Plot summary in this link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Sound_of_Thunder

crosspatch

What we need is a “climate kook early warning system”

Mac the Knife

I believe I’ve found the knack of this ‘tipping point’ thing…. I’m tipping one now!
Killian’s…….. Mmmmmmm!!!!!!!

Richard111

Information fatigue…

Blade

Chris F [June 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm] says:
“Some folks just insist on seeing monsters under every bed. I’m glad I grew up and those things don’t bother me any more..”

Ain’t that the truth! Surely some psychiatrist can offer insight into this phenomenon that plagues so-many alleged grown-ups.

Duncan [June 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm] says:
“So… the greening of the Sahara is a tipping point, or an early sign that we’re approaching a tipping point?”

timetochooseagain [June 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm] says:
“Horror of horrors! The greening of the Sahara!
No that’s not actually frightening. What’s frightening is that I have just realized that we have all stepped into the Twilight Zone, for that is the only place any human being, sane or otherwise, could consider that a bad thing.”

Well said! This is clearly a mental disorder, and if I may offer a theory:
When a child or adolescent is incessantly bombarded with negative propaganda about how their entire history is corrupt, their ancestors raped and pillaged the planet, their inventions and advancements came with the immoral high cost of savaging the environment, the only possible result is a joyless contemptible adult. Consequently, there should be no surprise that such ‘adults’ will spend every waking moment trying to undo all these significant achievements regardless of the clear damage to common sense, and let alone the cost of human lives in the process.
We can easily laugh at the amazing disconnect that a greener Sahara or semi-thawed Tundra is a bad thing, but nonetheless, these people do exist and are highly placed in many fields of science and academia. Furthermore, there is a large bumper-crop of these malcontents currently in the pipeline. Remember, the retiring generation managed to get through school and life with a relative small dose of toxic propaganda. The next few waves have it from childhood on, from morning cartoons, to day-school political correctness, to after-school televised media and of course the internet itself. Lenin’s Marxist chickens are coming home to roost.
So to me, surprise is rarely warranted these days. Every possible variation of stupidity, insanity, irony and hypocrisy will be outdone by succeeding examples. Things are pretty much right on schedule.

Stephen Rasey beat me to it. But it’s worth repeating:
They “look for signs that a climate system is slowing down in its response to short-term natural variability (which we experience as the weather)
Huh?????
You can tell that a tipping point is approaching because the climate response slows down???
The climate responds to weather???
Or do they mean the weather slows down in its response to short-term variability, and if so, variability in what???
And this after the warmists have been telling us for eons that all the bad things (temperature, arctic ice loss, ocean heat content, etc) have been accelerating?
…..
OK, OK, et’s suppose that this is science, in which case it can be tested: All Tim Lenton has to do is to apply his hypothesis to make some specific predictions – fully documented of course. We can then all check to see if he was right.

Common Sense

Oh, a tipping point like a winter storm warning tonight for the central and northern Colorado mountains with 3-6 inches of snow predicted? On June 19th?
The high for Denver tomorrow is supposed to be 61.
Not that snow and cold are unusual in June here, but this definitely continues the cooler trend we’ve seen for the past couple of years.

I think this is a very foresightful article. From their point of view it’s a massive move of the goalposts.
As the AGW theory and predictions are being shown to fail as models and reality continue to diverge, with this new study the focus has shifted to minor events that precursor the failed predictions.
Don’t look at the failed premises, but look – just look – at these variable predictors of these failed premises. Since even the precursor to tipping points do not actually occur, but just the very signs of them can now magically be proven to exist, it will not matter what the climate actually does or is going to do. Money and governments must step up to the plate before it is too late.
I can’t even come up with a sentence to explain the madness of all this, it’s become so convoluted. I’m sure they’ll use computer models to justify and find proper pre-cursor evidence leading to tipping points.
We live in amazing times. Sad, but amazing.

R. Gates

All systems that exhibit spatio-temporal chaos have tipping points. The most recent was the onset of the Younger Dryas period. It came on in the mere blink of an eye and ended just as fast in geological terms.

Michael Lewis

“Professor” Tim Lenton.
Do University of Exeter and University of East Anglia give out academic appointments to those who “profess” the correct climate religion? Is “professor” a higher grade than adherent, in the “Church of Climate Divining”? Is he a devine in divining?
It surely is not being used here to describe a leader in scientific method and the quest for knowledge and understanding, as “the science is all in”!